Urdu - The National Language of Pakistan.

Urdu - the National Language of Pakistan.
Urdu is the national language and one of two official languages of Pakistan (the other being English). Urdu is the national language of Pakistan, the lingua franca chosen to facilitate inter-provincial communication between the country's diverse linguistic populations. Although only about 7.5% of Pakistanis speak it as their first language, it is spoken as a second and often third language by nearly all Pakistanis.
Its introduction as the lingua franca was encouraged by the British upon the capitulation and annexation of Sindh (1843) and Punjab (1849) with the subsequent ban on the use of Persian, the lingua franca of the region for the last 1,000 years, probably since the time the area was part of the Persian Achaemenid Empire. The decision to make the language change was to institute a universal language throughout the then British Raj in South Asia as well as minimise the influence of Persia, Ottoman Empire, Afghanistan and Central Asia had on this transitional region. Urdu is a relatively new language in the contemporary sense but has undergone considerable modifications and development borrowing heavily on the traditions of older languages like Persian, Arabic, Turkish and local South Asian languages all of which can be found in its vocabulary. It began as a standardised register of Hindi and in its spoken form. It is widely used, both formally and informally, for personal letters as well as public literature, in the literary sphere and in the popular media. It is a required subject of study in all primary and secondary schools. It is the first language of most Muhajirs (Muslim refugees that fled from genocide and programs from different parts of India after independence of Pakistan in 1947) that form nearly 8% of Pakistan's population and is an acquired language. But nearly all of Pakistan's native ethnic groups representing almost 92% of the population making Pakistan a unique country in the choice of national languages. As Pakistan's national language, Urdu has been promoted as a token of national unity. In recent years, the Urdu spoken in Pakistan has undergone further evolution and acquired a particularly Pakistani flavour to it often absorbing local native terminology and adopting a strong Punjabi, Sindhi and Pashto leaning in terms of intonations and vocabulary. It is written in a modified form of the Perso-Arabic script, Nastaliq, and its basic Hindi-based vocabulary has been enriched by words from Persian, Arabic, Turkic languages and English. Urdu has drawn inspiration from Persian literature and has now an enormous stock of words from that language. In recent years, the Urdu spoken in Pakistan has gradually incorporated words from many of the native languages found there including Pashto, Punjabi and Sindhi to name a few. As such the language is constantly developing and has acquired a particularly 'Pakistani' flavour to it distinguishing itself from that spoken in ancient times and in India. The first poetry in Urdu was by the Persian poet Amir Khusro (1253–1325) and the first Urdu book "Woh Majlis" was written in 1728 and the first time the word "Urdu" was used by Sirajuddin Ali Khan Arzoo in 1741. The Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb Alamgir (1658-1707) spoke Urdu (or Hindustani) fluently as did his descendants while his ancestors mostly spoke Persian and Turkish.

Official status

Urdu is the national and one of the two official languages (Qaumi Zabaan) of Pakistan, the other being English, and is spoken and understood throughout the country, while the state-by-state languages (languages spoken throughout various regions) are the provincial languages. It is used in education, literature, office and court business. It holds in itself a repository of the cultural and social heritage of the country. Although English is used in most elite circles, and Punjabi has a plurality of native speakers, Urdu is the lingua franca and national language in Pakistan.

Urdu is also one of the officially recognised languages in India and has official language status in the Indian states of Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand, Jammu and Kashmir and the national capital, New Delhi.

In Jammu and Kashmir, section 145 of the Kashmir Constitution provides: "The official language of the State shall be Urdu but the English language shall unless the Legislature by law otherwise provides, continue to be used for all the official purposes of the State for which it was being used immediately before the commencement of the Constitution." As of 2010, the English language continues to be used as an official language for more than 90% of official work in Kashmir. There are ongoing efforts to make Kashmiri and Dogri, spoken as mother tongues by nearly 80% of the population of Indian-administered Kashmir, as official languages alongside English.

The importance of Urdu in the Muslim world is visible in the Holy cities of Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, where most informational signage is written in Arabic, English and Urdu, and sometimes in other languages.


Urdu has four recognised dialects: Dakhni, Rekhta, and Modern Vernacular Urdu (based on the Khariboli dialect of the Delhi region). Dakhni (also known as Dakani, Deccani, Desia, Mirgan) is spoken in Deccan region of southern India. It is distinct by its mixture of vocabulary from Marathi and Telugu language, as well as some vocabulary from Arabic, Persian and Turkish that are not found in the standard dialect of Urdu. In terms of pronunciation, the easiest way to recognise a native speaker is their pronunciation of the letter "qaf" as "kh". Dakhini is widely spoken in all parts of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu. Urdu is read and written as in other parts of India. A number of daily newspapers and several monthly magazines in Urdu are published in these states.

Pakistani variant of the language spoken in Pakistan; it becomes increasingly divergent from the Indian dialects and forms of Urdu as it has absorbed many loan words, proverbs and phonetics from Pakistan's indigenous languages such as Pashto, Punjabi and Sindhi. Furthermore, due to the region's history, the Urdu dialect of Pakistan draws heavily from the Persian and Arabic languages, and the intonation and pronunciation are informal compared with corresponding Indian dialects.

In addition, Rekhta (or Rekhti), the language of Urdu poetry, is sometimes counted as a separate dialect, one famously used by several British Indian poets of high acclaim in the bulk of their work. These included Mirza Ghalib, Mir Taqi Mir and Muhammad Iqbal, the national poet-philosopher of Pakistan.

Urdu Language Writers

Ashfaq Ahmed
Ghulam Abbas
Obaidullah Baig
Fatima Surayya Bajia
Khwaja Mir Dard
Faiz Ahmed Faiz
Ahmed Faraz
Mirza Ghalib
Altaf Hussain Hali
Abdul Hameed
Maulvi Abdul Haq
Muhammad Iqbal
Mohsin Kakorvi
Muzaffar Warsi
Anwar Maqsood

Urdu Novelists

Deputy Nazir Ahmad
Qurratul-ain Haider
Bano Qudsia
Ashfaq Ahmed
Shaukat Thanvi
Abdullah Hussain
Fatima Surayya Bajia
Shaukat Siddiqui
Paigham Afaqui
Mustansar Hussein Tarar

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